by Mark E. Mountjoy
Texts: Matthew 12:43-45; Matthew 22:1-14; Matthew 24:22; Mark 13:20; Luke 21:24; John 5:43 and Revelation 1:1; 2:27 and Revelation 20:1-15.
It is a great opportunity and privilege to be able to discuss, to debate ideas and to share concepts respectfully with other Christians. This is especially noteworthy in regard to those who share our general preterist convictions on Bible prophecy, but do not understand what the history of the Jewish State and its downfall in the second century has to do with anything. Desiring agreement and unity, these other Christians do not grant what we presuppose nor do they necessarily see eye to eye with us on issues we deem important. An intramural issue, the points discussed below would be of concern to Preterists generally: The significance of major events in Jewish history in the aftermath of the First Jewish Revolt and particularly the Judæa Capta Period and the second century Bar Kokhba cataclysm and the disappearance of the Jewish State in antiquity.
For many Full Preterists only A.D.70 represents the legitimate (and ultimate) deadline of any and all Bible prophecies--beyond that date no possibilities whatsoever can be entertained, because "all was fulfilled." Some have asked and wondered aloud whether or not the Roman Captivity Period, the Diaspora upheavals and Kitos Revolts, the binding and loosing of Satan and the Gog/ Magog war has any connection to the prophecies, metaphors and symbols found in Revelation chapter 20?
Some see problems in the Full Preterist understanding of Revelation 20 and wonder, did Jesus or the New Testament writers predict the Second Jewish revolt, and if so, where?
In this short essay we will attempt to spell out how Jesus himself predicted the final Jewish revolt; we will also show how and why the Final Revolt (A.K.A., the Bar Kokhba Revolt) and its goal of rebuilding a third Jewish Temple is very important (even critical) to, not only a truly Scriptural grasp of the subject, but also a rational understanding of the zenith of Bible prophecy.
We will show how and why we believe Jesus alluded to events which only transpired in second century Jewish antiquity; demonstrate how minimizing or completely ignoring the Roman Captivity period, the Kitos Wars and the final Jewish war for their intrinsic significance, instead of bringing more clarity to the A.D.70 situation, creates an obstacle, an interpretive liability and a handicap.
When all is said and done, and when the history of the Second Commonwealth is taken into account, nothing else really makes sense when the conclusive events of the Jew’s obstinacy and militant Zealot efforts to realize their Messianic hopes are bypassed, excluded or ignored. And so, it is asked, "Did Jesus himself predict the Bar Kokhba revolt?" The Answer is 'Yes He Did'
What Jesus said has to make a difference for us as Christians. And if his sayings, his words, his commandments, his parables, his promises, his vows, his commitments, his authority, his interpretations, and his testimony make a difference for us, we will yield, learn, strive and arrive at the same or nearly the same conclusions, the same mind, the same judgment and same voice on key and necessary points of New Testament teaching.
Now, however, that lofty goal is not in our sights, and if it can never be true all discussions are really meaningless and their successful outcomes are doomed from the start. We really need Jesus to be the center of our attention and we really need what he said to be the final arbiter and the ultimate deciding factor on what we will believe and what we will reject.
So when we look at the question, Did Jesus Predict the Bar Kokhba Revolt? at first glance we might want to answer, No he did not! But why not? Because we do not find anything in the New Testament that mentions Bar Kokhba's name even once; because he's not in the Gospels, he’s not in Acts;, he’s not in the epistles nor the Book of Revelation?
Since the name “Simon Bar Kokhba” is not there that should take care of the question--No, Jesus did not predict the Bar Kokhba Revolt--end of story! But we must back up a bit and take a second look at some important parables and prophecies and we need to reflect upon and think about what they are really saying. Only in this way can a meaning deeper than superficial assumptions and much more profound than preconceived notions, biases and prejudices come to the fore.
With this in mind, The Parable of the Wicked Spirit in Matthew 12:43-45 introduces us to a concept of national spiritual uncleanness, cleansing and relapse. Let us first read the parable and then make some observations about what it might mean. In the forty-third verse of the chapter Jesus makes this statement:
"When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. 44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. 45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation" (Matthew 12:43-45).
The parable speaks of "a man" but it is an illustration (an analogy). The analogy is not really about the man, but about the generation—this generation: the generation of Jesus' day. What is the meaning of this illustration? It says that a wicked spirit will go out of that generation, that that generation will have a time when it is clean, swept and garnished, and that when that wicked spirit returned he would find it so. Jesus further says that the wicked spirit will re-enter that generation with seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and the end of that generation will be worse than it was before the house was swept cleaned and garnished and even before the evil spirit departed.
How Matthew 12:43-45 Makes Sense in Light of First and Second Century Jewish History?
Now, what this story means in the light of eschatology and history is the point at issue. And the issue (at its heart) makes the real difference between the claims of Full Preterists, their A.D.70. end-all and be-all date and our contention that it is impossible to sustain the idea that Satan was cast out of Judaea AT ANY TIME during the A.D.30-70 interval. If we can show that Satan was indeed free during the ministry of Jesus and the Apostles, then we can establish that the Parable of the Wicked Spirit can only make sense on a timetable that not only includes, but also extends past the A.D.30-70 period.
To be sure, in Full Preterist eyes, the existence of the Second Temple (not the existence of the generation) is THE issue. But the generation of Jesus' day was not extinguished in A.D.70 or in one fell swoop. The generation of Jesus' day (those who survived to be carried away captive into all nations) continued to hope against hope, to fight and even die for a brighter day, a glorious day of ultimate victory against the hated Romans; a day not afar off AFTER A.D.70. As Yigael Yadin writes-
"But living without the Temple and Jerusalem was regarded by all as a temporary phase. Every Jew believed in his heart that the day of his return to Jerusalem was not far off, that the Temple would be rebuilt and the Messiah would appear to redeem his people." [Bar Kokhba p. 17]
As Yadin notes, there is no historical basis or proof that everybody involved in the First Jewish revolt died in the year 70. Instead, Yadin notes that survivors included
“a growing Diaspora—refugees and militants who survived the First Revolt—and fresh centres of Jewish learning sprouted throughout the Roman Empire.” [ibid, 17].
But Full Preterists do not concern themselves with survivors—refugees, militants or otherwise; they assume there is no serious reason to believe that everyone from Jesus' generation lived past 70! They also assume it is impossible to prove that anyone from Jesus’ generation lived long enough to participate in the hopes and efforts to fight and win the Second Revolt against the Romans—when the very opposite is true!
Notwithstanding, the Parable of the Wicked Spirit infers realities, realities that reach beyond the Destruction of Jerusalem; realities that go beyond a period of apparent tranquility. For the parable to make any sense a period of tranquility has to be interrupted by a renewed period of demonic infestation--and ultimate ruin. If we begin with the context of Matthew 12 we will discover that it has Jesus in direct conflict with the Pharisees.
They have an issue with his casting a demon out of a boy. This was not the first time they found fault with Jesus!
They had issues with him doing good deeds and mighty works on the Sabbath; they resented the Apostles picking corn on the Sabbath!
They were appalled that he had the audacity to forgive sins!
They took umbrage to his making himself equal with God!
Now, again, responding to the exorcism in their usual negative way, they accuse him of performing it by the power of Beelzebub (the Lord of the Flies). Who was this “Lord of the Flies”? To the Jews in antiquity Beelzebub was an evil archon (a mighty and malicious angelic being). The Jews believed this being was responsible for bringing misery, pain and suffering and all things rotten, unpleasant and hurtful into the world. Hearing this odious blasphemy, the Lord was extremely angry with them and quick to ask them some pointed questions,
“If I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out?”
Jesus also made definitive declarations about others--the people of Nineveh, the Queen of the south--people from other times who would rise up in the judgment because they heeded persons of lesser glory and of lesser wisdom and of lesser stature than himself, but this generation would have the gall and audacity to name him (heaven's best) the servant of the prince of demons!
In the parable, Jesus makes it clear that Judaea is evil, but more than that, that it will get better and then turn out worse off in the very end. In order to see the fulfillment of this parable (which, by the way, could also be considered a prophecy), we need to be able to look at Jewish history and see where these developments happen along a logical, meaningful continuum.
Moreover, whatever we see must be accepted--so long as it does not contradict itself by affirming and denying a single proposition in one breath. Now, when we examine the ministry of Jesus we find plenty of evidence to conclude that not only Satan, but also demons were frequently a part of the story or narrative (e.g., Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 1:21-28).
This was true when Satan tempted Jesus after his baptism (Matthew 4:1-11), this was true when the Apostle Peter upbraided the Lord about being rejected by the chief priests and elders and crucified (Matthew 16:23). It was true when on the eve of the Lord’s betrayal Satan entered Judas, inspiring him to do the unimaginable (Luke 22:3).
Stories here and there also appear where demonic oppression and exorcisms happen. Some of these happen in the Gospels, but they also happen in Acts as well (Acts 5:3 cf. 5:16; 8:7; 16:16-18; 19:11-17). Indications of Satan’s direct involvement against the ministries of the Apostles are not difficult to find (1 Thessalonians 2:18).
And what does all this prove?
It proves, beyond all doubt, that neither Satan nor his minions were absent from Judaea or the Diaspora during the A.D.30-70 window of time. And that being true means that the Parable of the Wicked Spirit was NOT fulfilled within the parameters Full Preterists imagine it was.
Let’s look at another parable that also will not easily fit into an A.D.30-70 scenario.
The Parable of the King’s Son’s Wedding
Above we discovered new details. These details tell us how the parts make sense; details also make or break Preterist claims. Conflicting claims or illogical justifications that do not add up spell doom to a thesis; conflicts in timing and circumstances can completely destroy any credibility Preterists might now seem to have. But, we really need this credibility! We need to be legit in the eyes of those who have more than a casual familiarity with ancient Jewish and early classical Roman imperial history! And so, if the parts do not make sense together the whole looks like a cacophony of odd facts and claims thrown together rather than a coherent and decent argument.
If the logic cannot be followed (no matter what kind of sincere effort could be put into it) and if neither Jewish or Roman history supports what a certain interpretation claims happened, how can it be believed? It can’t! And yet, another parable presents insurmountable problems, problems related to specific ideas that, in a word, basically oversimplify what Jesus saw would happen as a result of his work as a returning Judge.
This second parable shows Jesus as prosecutor of the Jewish world and one who would righteously judge them at a time not too distant from his resurrection and ascension back to the throne of God.
In Matthew 22:1-14, the Parable of the King's Son's Wedding, the idea of two invitations and two judgment purges is not hard to see. Let us read and ponder its meaning,
"And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, 3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. 4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. 5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: 6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. 7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. 11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:1-14).
The above parable has a number of features that we need to consider carefully.
First, there is the initial invitation, the carelessness and the malevolence of the citizens against the king's messengers. This could be interpreted properly as the citizens of the Second Commonwealth's attitudes and actions against the Apostles, saints and early Christians. Some cared more for their everyday affairs, their businesses and their leisurely pursuits, but others had a violent response and lashed out at the Apostles and even killed some of them and their scribes.
Second, the parable speaks about the king's appraisal of these things and his having the city of those murderers burned down. Without having to look very far we can see that this speaks to the Fall and Destruction of Jerusalem.
Third, another invitation goes out after the initial one that was heralded before the city was burned. Do you see where we are going with this? The answer: A second invitation.
Conclusion of the Parable of the Wedding
As we have seen, not only did Jesus announce judgment parables upon Jerusalem and the citizens of his day, but also in many of those same parables it is explicit and implicit that there would be two (not just one) invitation. Just as in the Parable of the Wicked Spirit, so too in the Parable of the King’s Son’s wedding two rather than one instances of judgment can be seen. In the second invitation in the Parable of the King’s Son’s wedding we can make the following pronouncements:
(1) A new invitation to the Son's wedding would be issued after the Destruction of Jerusalem in A.D.70.
(2) People from the highways and byways, good and bad would come into the king's presence.
(3) Someone attending would be there without proper attire on. In a new inspection performed by the king a guest would be noticed, confronted and condemned by the king--condemned to outer darkness for being dressed inappropriately.
(4) From the one man illustrated by Jesus in the parable, he concludes that "many are called but few are chosen."
In other words, the parable (like the Parable of the Wicked Spirit) in reality speaks about the fate of many people rather than just one man. Like the "man" in The Parable of the Wicked Spirit, the "man" in The Parable of the King's Son's Wedding is indicative of "this generation" or the "many" called versus the "few chosen."
Therefore, we understand this parable to forebode, not the damnation of one man only, but the rejection of "many" that were called to the wedding.
However, it must be remembered that this invitation (of necessity and sequence) has to happen after the destruction of the city in A.D.70. If the second invitation comes before the destruction of the city, there is no parallel between the parable and Second Temple Jewish history and the parable ends up being really meaningless, sequentially and historically speaking.
In light of the above these "many" have to be those survivors of the A.D.70 debacle--High Priests and Priests, regular citizens, soldiers and servants, rich and poor, Jews and proselytes, Zealots and Sicarii and Idumeans.
With the destruction of the city behind them, and the possibilities of a wide open future before them a message--the same Gospel message was reiterated to them, offering them yet another chance to repent and believe the Gospel. But these people, these survivors (or many of them) for one reason or another did not comply with the dress requirements of the wedding. The implications of the parable tell us that whoever they are, they lived post-70; whoever they are, they had a new chance to believe and comply; chose not to; and are bound hand and foot and cast into outer darkness!
From the above, a situation has to be allowed and envisioned that "allows" and "permits" a Gospel outreach to the Jews and the nations after the A.D.70 date, after the fall of the Second Temple, after the end of the Mosaic age and after the taking of the A.D.70 survivors into all nations.
A second invitation represents exactly what the first invitation represented: Evangelization and Gospel preaching, confession of Christ as God’s Son and baptism into Christ. And so a second invitation also means that we need to have a period of renewed preaching after a span of relative peace and solicitude (See Revelation 10:8-11).
Now, the judgment of the man inappropiately dressed cannot refer back to anything before the renewed call went out without doing violence to the parable! Hence, a natural reading of the parable points to some other events (future to the A.D.70 destruction of Jerusalem) that answers to "many called, but few chosen." But (as we have seen) the only thing in the Book of Revelation after the Destruction of Jerusalem in Revelation 19:1-4, is the capture, binding, imprisonment and loosing of Satan and the equally swift rise and fall of Gog/Magog in Revelation 20:7-15.
The Seventieth Week 'Docked" for the Elect's Sake
So far we have covered two parables; both Matthean. Now I would like to direct your attention to Daniel 9 and Gabriel's prophecy about the Seventy Weeks. According to the angel's prophecy, seventy weeks of seven years would be given to the Jews before the end came with the destruction of the Second Temple, wars and desolations. Longstanding Christian fights and bitter disputes break out all the time about what and when and how the last seven years of Daniel's seventy weeks prophecy play out and are realized. Are they connected to the sixty-ninth week or are they separated from it?
If separated, how wide is the margin between the stop and the start? Does the prophecy justify a two thousand year sweep or does what happened in A.D.70 meet all the requirements and satisfy the prophecy? Our own viewpoint will ask people to decide if the Seventieth Week (itself seven years long) was fulfilled all at once or whether or not Jesus indicated it would be divided and fulfilled in equal divisions?
These questions, positions and viewpoints seem to boggle the mind. Whole ideologies are formed out of sheer speculation and endless calculations. In the Dispensational Premillennial world there are constant claims, counterclaims and retractions and amendments on what they believe the Seventieth Week means and how and when it will happen.
Let’s look at the prophecy and make ourselves familiar with its details and surrounding context. The prophecy of Daniel 9 reads as follows,
"In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; 2 In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. 3 And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: 4 And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; 5 We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: 6 Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. 7 O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee. 8 O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him; 10 Neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. 11 Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him. 12 And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem. 13 As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth. 14 Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice. 15 And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
16 O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. 17 Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake. 18 O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousness, but for thy great mercies.
19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name. 20 And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God; 21 Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. 22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.
23 At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. 24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. 25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. [26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.] 27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate" (Daniel 9:1-27 KJV).
Within Christian circles the controversy (actually continual strife between the claims of Premillennialists and the claims of Amillennialists and Postmillennialists) rages on. People tip toe around these issues, but the real point of all this contention is not so much the entirety of the chapter, but (believe it or not) what to do with verse 26? Additional hand wringing comes from the question of where to put the fulfillment of verse 27?
On one hand, many Christians are at great pains to figure out how this pair of verses should be interpreted! Many ask, “Should we let Premillennialists get away with claiming that the death of Christ on the Cross in verse 26a is separated from 26b, 26c and 26d?” If we do, then verse 26 is separated from the events of Calvary by more than twenty centuries!
On the other hand, most conservative fundamentalist Christians see absolutely nothing wrong with that. Amillennialists and Postmillennialists and even Preterists bristle, recoil at the mere thought of it! They see no basis for this at all. Instead, they are comfortable with assigning Daniel 9:27's seventieth week destruction of the city and the sanctuary with the Fall of Jerusalem from A.D.66-70.
However, they do not tell how they can justify this! They do not explain how and why they reason that it should be so when A.D.66-70 is not contiguously connected to the Cross and A.D.33. In other words, though small there is still a glaring thirty-five year gap even in the supposed conservative Amillennial/Postmillennial/Covenant eschatology interpretation. The thirty-five year interval (staring everyone straight in the face!)--is just as inexplicable as construing a 2,000 expanse in the text.
Large or small, how can Christians justify any interval between the sixty-ninth and the commencement of the seventieth week?
Jesus Infers Daniel’s Seventieth Week Was a Distance Away, But Still Within His Day
Now, even though Daniel 9:26 and 27 seem problematic, and even though it is clear that no historical proof of any kind can be offered that the Destruction of Jerusalem happened contiguous with the death of Jesus (or anyone else living in the middle of the first century) it is clear that Jesus had the events of Daniel 9 in mind when he gave the Olivet Discourse. And therein is our own authority for understanding (implicitly) was is not said explicitly: For reasons we may never discover, God saw fit to isolate and fulfill, not the whole week, but part of it.
The way it worked out in real life can be shown to be a small distance of about 35 years after the death of his Son. That was still within his day, but we want to go further than that--we want to entertain the idea that the Seventieth Week was not fulfilled as one unit either, but two--and a step further and offer that one unit was fulfilled from A.D.66-70 and the other from A.D.132-136!
Can we do this?
I believe we can. If it can be shown that Jesus himself not only distanced the Seventieth Week from his ministry, and if it can be shown that he definitively attached the Destruction of Jerusalem, the end of the Second Temple and the Abomination of Desolation, and also envisioned only half that final week, we have established a big part of our case.
By his calling attention to and applying what amounts to the first phase of the conclusion of the Second Temple era Jesus limits or actually denies the concept of a seven year long tribulation.
What this means in plain language is that the Scriptures virtually state that the Destruction would only be a forty-two month stretch, rather than an eighty-four month stretch (see Revelation 11:2 and 13:5). And if this is actually how it happened I believe we will have established that Jesus foresaw such things as isolated forty-two month long war episodes who accomplishments, outcomes and results came about as complete and horrible surprises to his enemies in the first and the second centuries!
Zeroing in on How the Seventieth Week Was Allotted and How it Was Fulfilled
As we saw above, the problem of Daniel 9 and how its predictions work out in real life present challenges of all kinds to all parties no matter who they happen to be. For thousands of years Christians, of a variety of eschatological opinions, have scratched their heads and devised many scenarios. But if the problems of Daniel 9:26 were not tough enough, the problems of Daniel 9:27 present far more hurdles!
For one thing, the twenty-seventh verse is the only verse in the whole of Daniel chapter 9 where we can imagine (with any confidence) Jesus alluding to an abomination of desolation that was still unfulfilled as of his ministry in the 30s of the first century. However that may be, it still helps us isolate a prophetic "week" and it still gives us something to work with when we are faced with trying to understand what Jesus meant when he spoke of the days of the tribulation being cut short or docked.
So where are these references at?
There are two of them; the first can be found in Matthew 24:19-22 and the other in Mark 13:20.
Jesus spoke of the days of the tribulation being cut short when he said,
"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened" (Matthew 24:21-22).
And again, we read in Mark's version,
"For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. 20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days" (Mark 13:19-20).
By Jesus' own words, this tribulation is associated (time-wise) to the abomination of desolation foretold in Daniel's writings (note Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14). It should be clear from this, therefor, that even half of the seventieth week is isolated from the week leading up to the cutting off of the Messiah. There is no way around this--unless one can truly say that Jerusalem fell in A.D.33!
But the Book of Daniel mentions the abomination of desolation twice--Daniel 8:13 and 9:27. These should not be confused. The former abomination of desolation (foretold by an unnamed angel) was the same as the prophecy of an abomination of desolation that was fulfilled during Antiochus Epiphane's Seleucid rule (168-165 B.C.). This has to be taken for granted. Why? Simply because one event was historically behind Jesus and the Apostles, but the latter prediction (found in Daniel 9) was historically in front of them. But what is difficult and worrisome in Daniel 9:26 is that THE WAY IT READS the death of the Messiah and the Fall of the city seem happen basically back-to-back (but in real life they do not!).
With Interruption, Or Without Interruption-- How Was The Seventieth Week’s Fulfillment to be Understood?
Many assume (without warrant) that the gap/ no-gap conundrum is a very simple development and a very recent one; it is not. How do we know this? We know this by the questions the Rabbis put to Jesus. The questions they posed to him tell us a lot about their assumptions and how they understood, not only Daniel 2, but also Daniel chapter 7 and 9.
From reading Daniel 9 alone it is clear that the Messiah comes and the fall of Jerusalem happens right away--well, at least that is how it reads! And this is how the Rabbis understood it; this is how the Apostles understood it and this is how the Zealots understood it. This is why the Pharisees thought that the kingdom of God would appear immediately (Luke 19:11).
This is why, ten days before Pentecost the Apostles asked Jesus,
“Lord, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6).
This is why the Zealots--when Menahem was unexpectedly killed at the beginning of the First Great War--thought it was fateful but perfectly timed as the prophecy placed the death of the Messiah on the Eve of the Destruction of Jerusalem--or so it seemed!
Luke 21 and “the Times of the Gentiles,” Daniel 7s Beasts and
the Prolonging of Their Lives/Carried Away Captive into All Nations
At the outset of this essay we discussed those refugees and militants and other survivors that swelled the ranks of the Diaspora. Let us return to them once again. Now, in regard to what Jesus foretold as the fate of his generation, his contemporaries; the fate of their city; the end of their age; their hopes and misguided Messianic fervor, wars and ambitions, here is a temptation to want to place all one's weight on one particular version of a text.
Matthew 24 is such a favorite.
But Luke 21:24 has interesting clauses absent in Matthew and Mark's version. These clauses in Luke 21, when read carefully, are a very, very powerful witness to our allegations about Jesus and what he knew about any Second Jewish Revolt. In Luke's version of the Olivet Discourse we hear Jesus saying,
"And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. 21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. [22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.] 23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. 24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, [and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled"] (Luke 21:20-24).
In the above quote we think the bracketed verses are important clauses--clauses that we do not find in either Matthew 24 or Mark 13. The first of these clauses tell us what Full Preterists maintain: All things written HAD to be fulfilled in connection with the Destruction of Jerusalem.
But as far as the second clause is concerned, we differ on how the times of the Gentiles played out in real life. Were the times of the Gentiles fulfilled exactly WITH the Destruction of Jerusalem or SOMEWHAT after it? In other words, were the days of vengeance fulfilled exactly by A.D.70? Was Jerusalem trodden down by the Gentiles only from 66-70 with no new or nearby contests in the foreseeable future? We believe the "times of the Gentiles" has reference to disenfranchised Jews and the multitude of God-fearing Gentiles from Babylon, Medeo-Persia and the Grecian empires contesting the results of A.D.70 AFTER A.D.70 but still within the lifetime of the generation of those who were alive in Jesus' day.
Now, if one wonders how we could support such an idea, Daniel 7:12 is a good place to look; there it tells us the Fourth Kingdom would be destroyed FIRST and THEN the other three WOULD HAVE THEIR LIVES PROLONGED FOR A SEASON AND A TIME.
Ezekiel Chapters 38 and 39 Also Must Be Factored into this Discussion
In an attempt to understand Revelation 20 and particularly Revelation 20:7-15 one must acknowledge the allusion John gives to the events spelled out in Ezekiel 38 and 39. What he does in a nutshell Ezekiel spells out in horrific details. Please take the time necessary to highlight, outline and meditate on the meaning of these Ezekian texts.
When reading them, remember, the Roman Empire ended quite a long ways from the days of the Apostles (technically A.D.475), but broadly in 1453. It is not our view that the fall of the Roman Empire has anything to do with any Old Testament prophecy. We do believe that the second century Zealot army of Simon Bar Kohkba, numbering some 585,000 soldiers can easily refute any claim that the Jewish people had such troops on hand at any time in the first century.
Now, too, in terms of national support, the second century effort outshines anything witnessed in the Jew's first attempt at succession from the Roman Empire. With nearly a thousand villages supporting the war and the Babylonian Talmud informing us that some four billion people lost their lives in the rebellion and its aftermath, we feel compelled to believe this is very important and significant (Ezekiel 39:11; Romans 9:27; Hebrews 11:12; Revelation 20:8, see also Josephus' Antiquities 11.5.2:131-133).
In the final analysis, our contention is that Gog and Magog represents the "chaff of the summer threshingfloor" (Daniel 2:35). Now, as per Daniel 7:12 the termination of the Babylonians, Persians and Grecians has to come AFTER the A.D. 70 demise of the failed coup d'etat to take the promised kingdom of God by force went awry in the A.D.66-70 attempt. These considerations, along with the demonic activity in the Gospel and Acts period, and what Jesus said in two important parables, and what Jewish historians attest about refugees from the First Great Revolt participating and perishing in the Second Great Revolt leads us to believe the Bible does predict a zenith of prophecy which corresponds to the dissappearance of the Jewish State in the third decade of the second century. Any additional comments and questions about this point of view are encouraged and welcome.
Caption Above and Video Below Show the Lag BaOmer Commemoration
of the End of the Jewish State in the Second Century
You might also like: Who Were the Měḥaššěbê ̉ittōts?, Comments on Matthew 10:23, Babylon the Great City—According to the Bible, Babylon the Great in the New Testament, How Atavists Interpret "This Generation", Atavist Eschatology in Matthew and Presuppositions That Cause Christians To View Realized Eschatology as Patently Absurd (Second Revision)